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Home | Articles | Coaching Leaders

Coaching Leaders

Why Should I Go For Coaching?

I find myself frequently answering four questions around coaching and they are:

  1. What is coaching?
  2. What do you do as a coach?
  3. Why should I go for coaching?
  4. How do I select the right coach for me?


What is coaching?

Answering this question can inspire a host of answers from practitioners and theorists alike. What follows is my personal view:

The first response from those in the know and academics would be to define the difference between coaching and mentoring. This is not a debate I choose to entertain as in large part the terms are mostly interchangeable. For a broad based definition however; mentoring is largely a relationship where a more experienced, well positioned person takes another younger person under their wing and introduces them into their network, provides opportunities and general guidance to them.
Coaching is a more formal and structured relationship where confidentiality is guaranteed, and learning objectives are clarified. Within a constructive relationship then, skills and competence transfer take place.

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What do you as a coach do?

First of all one has to define the territory within which one coaches. It goes without saying that one must have practiced what one is about to preach and there is no substitute for exposure, experience and personal success. M y experience and success exist in two contexts, as an employee within and later consultant to the corporate world of business. The people I am able to assist best are those who are in senior positions, aspiring to a continued, lucrative and meaningful career. The people that seek out my services are self motivated and desire an integrated approach to their life and work. As a coach, I find myself mostly exercising my listening skills and functioning as a trustworthy sounding board. In essence we as people mostly have the answers we seek deep within us. We even speak about them, or allude to them constantly without being able to “hear’ that we instinctively know the solutions for our own unique lives. Once these are clarified we sometimes need to rehearse and prepare for the encounter and envisage the action in real life. Here, I find myself using, case studies, illustrative story telling, sharing management and leadership theory, and teaching leadership competence, such as negotiation, networking, strategy, change management and political acumen.

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Why should I go for coaching?

How often does any facilitator or trainer in a business school or public context working with mature people not hear the following refrain?  “If only I had known about this, or learnt this years ago, how much easier and effective would my life have been?   It’s simply about accepting that the world we live in is immensely complex, diverse, constantly changing and fast moving.  Neither the school of life nor formal education can ever prepare us for everything we will encounter in the world of business where we are given immense responsibility, accountability and are expected to perform and make effective decisions consistently. As such two criteria relevant to coaching assist us with life.

Firstly, we are able to take time out, look at our life, a situation, a challenge, a difficulty together with someone we trust implicitly, gain some distance from the fraught emotions, explore the dilemma and come up with a well thought out solution. Mostly the quality of the solutions highlighted in coaching are superior to those elicited under pressure in the business environment, where there is no time for reflection, and subjectivity and habitual behaviour patterns predominate.

Secondly, not all coaching is reactive, much of it allows us to reflect on past experience and engage hypothetically with the future thereby allowing us to learn the required skills timeously and to be prepared mentally when the challenges arise.
Most often we are victims of our past and we find ourselves fighting the same challenge again and again, either at work, at home or even once we have changed jobs or even countries. In this case it is time to focus on the common denominator which is indeed ourselves.

In simple terms we spend much of life going round in circles or simply not believing that we ourselves are good enough; and we spend our lives consistently trying to prove something to others, thereby taking ourselves further and further away from, who we are, where we should be, and what we should be doing. Coaching strips away the superficial; and looks at the substance, within the individual, and provides, encouragement, self confidence and competence.

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How do I select the right coach for me?

Coaches are specialists in particular fields. It is important to first of all ensure that your coach is a successful person in their own right.  That they have practiced the competence they are about to impart to you on their own behalf. Then, its much about fit, do you feel comfortable with the person and their interpersonal style. Do you feel you connect with them and feel heard? Most coaches will offer a brief session at no cost to assess fit, learning objectives and expectations.

Lastly it is about affordability. Coaching is an investment in your life and your career. Like anything worthwhile in life, it is an expense. Most often it is unaffordable for the individual themselves, and should become part of the employees career development strategy and therefore should be company funded.

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Ronel Pieterse -JSE

I have worked with Renate for a number of years and it has always been an enormously rewarding experience. Her passion, integrity and technical expertise is without a doubt world class. She shares her expertise with limitless energy and cares deeply for everyone she works with. I can highly recommend her as an excellent coach with deep insight.

Linda van Der Colff, Standard Bank Global Head of Leadership and Learning"

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